The provincial government has finalized a four-year agreement with the Pharmacists' Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL).
In a news release, the province said the second phase of the provincial generic drug pricing policy also becomes effective today.
The pricing policy will result in generic drugs, except for those approved for exemption, being priced at no more than 40 per cent of brand-name drugs.
“When our government set out to reduce the costs of generic drugs, we knew we had to take a two-pronged approach to ensure fairness and benefits to both the people of the province and industry alike,” said Susan Sullivan, minister of health and community services.
“Through our negotiations with PANL earlier this year we placed great importance on providing new investments to pharmacies which respect their value to the communities they serve as well as the professionalism of pharmacists,” Sullivan said. “I am very pleased that we have concluded our negotiations which will see a reinvestment of approximately $37 million in pharmacies over the next four years.”
The minister said, as a result of the agreement, the provincial government will invest in new areas of professional pharmacy services and support to rural pharmacies including:
• Expanded payments for enhanced pharmacy service, including reviews of a patient’s medication profiles, focused on individuals with diabetes and discussions with the patient with the goal of improving compliance, minimizing side effects and improving health outcomes;
• Billing for services such as providing an interim supply of medication or extending a prescription for a client;
• Increases to the fee for refusing to fill a prescription in instances where it is suspected a client is abusing/misusing a narcotic.
• A remote subsidy valued at $1 million annually to be used to support rural and remote community-based pharmacies operating in underserviced areas. The criteria for defining a qualifying pharmacy and allocating the $1 million investment was recently finalized through the efforts of a working group between PANL and provincial government representatives. Applications for the first annual allocation are currently being assessed.
“While recent changes to the generic drug pricing regime posed challenges for many pharmacy operations, PANL is pleased that the provincial government listened to the concerns of our membership and responded by reinvesting significant funds to protect the economic viability of this key piece of our health care system,” said PANL president Joan Roach. “The new measures included in this contract help ensure pharmacists can continue to provide access to high quality, professional pharmacy services to all citizens in rural and urban communities right across the province. Negotiations were built on a foundation of mutual respect, and we appreciate the collaborative approach offered by the Provincial Government in crafting a fair and forward-looking contract.”
This past spring, the province moved forward with a new generic drug pricing model. The province says a portion of the savings, about $37 million, is being reinvested into pharmacies through the new agreement. An additional $29 million is also being invested in the 65-Plus Plan of the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program, to ensure that seniors covered by this plan will pay no more than $6 per prescription.
“I am pleased the cost of generic drugs continues to decrease for the people of the province,” said Finance Minister and Treasury Board president Tom Marshall. “It is also very important that a portion of our reinvestment in pharmacies is specifically targeted toward pharmacies in rural Newfoundland and Labrador to help ensure that they can continue to provide important services to people in our rural communities.”